It seems as though there is a very pronounced trend happening among homeowners in the United States, and that’s a push to renovate and remodel their home. Whether they are doing renovations in order to make it their “dream home” or in hopes of selling it and getting the most bang for their buck, according to projections made by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, more remodels are on the rise.

If you fit into the category of a homeowner looking to undertake a remodel or renovation project in your home, it’s important you understand what can be done on your own, versus when to call in a professional – in particular, a structural engineer. Here we’ll take a look at what a structural engineer does and when it’s important to contact one.

What is a Structural Engineer?

Unless you have tackled renovations in your home before, there’s a good chance you’ve never had to work with a structural engineer. A structural engineer is one who specializes specifically in the structure of a building. This can be a house or a large office block. Their job is to take a look at the durability and strength of a structure to ensure it is safe. They will be able to help with the design of the remodel and even make suggestions on what materials to use to keep the structural integrity. Structural engineers work with builders, surveyors, architects, and designers.

Do You Need to Hire a Structural Engineer?

There are several projects around your home that would require the assistance of a structural engineer. Some of the most common reasons for calling upon one include:

  • Construction of reinforced concrete columns
  • Building retaining walls
  • Suspended concrete slabs
  • Roofs that are built in hurricane-prone areas
  • Steel floor beams
  • Roof girders
  • Footings being placed in sloping block, soft soil, or clay

Basically, anytime you are looking to perform a major structural change, fix a structural problem, or build an addition, you need to contact a structural engineer.

A Couple of Tips to Remember

If you do need to call in a structural engineer, there are a few tips to remember. This will help to ensure you get the right person for the job who will check that the structure of your home is supported. The first thing you will want to ask is whether the structural engineer is a licensed professional. What this means is that they have gone through all the schooling required and have obtained their online masters in civil engineering at a prestigious school such as Norwich University, or have attended a school in-person.

The online MCE degree will assure you that they understand how to analyze all the factors that are exerting a force on your home and the components that are attached to it, and then figure out if the structure is strong enough.

Not Worth the Risk

Even if you’re unsure of whether you should call in a structural engineer, it’s usually worth going ahead. Risking the safety of your home and those in it just isn’t a risk worth taking.